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By Andrea Andres
21 February 2024

UNICEF is there for children, before, during and after an emergency. Since conflict in Ukraine escalated in February 2022, more than 5.9 million refugees fled the country, 84 per cent of whom were women and children.  

Two years on, and while the war in Ukraine remains unsettled, the Ukrainian refugee crisis is still one of the largest worldwide, with many taking refuge in neighbouring countries, including Moldova, the poorest country in Europe.  

As part of her ambassadorship with UNICEF Australia, philanthropist Erica Packer and her 14-year-old son, Jackson, visited the world’s largest humanitarian warehouse in Denmark. The lifesaving supplies found here are delivered to places like Moldova, where Erica and Jackson visited afterward to see UNICEF’s work supporting Ukrainian refugees. 

Inside the world’s largest humanitarian warehouse 

Currently, there are 450 million children across the globe living in or fleeing conflict zones. Many of those children, like those who have fled Ukraine, rely on life saving humanitarian aid, transported by land, sea or air from UNICEF’s high-tech logistics hub of Supply Division in Copenhagen Denmark 

A mother and son standing in a warehouse.©UNICEF

Erica and Jackson visited UNICEF’s Supply Division facility, which is the heart of UNICEF's global supply operations for children.

A mother and son being shown medical equipment in a room.©UNICEF

Inside, they witnessed the workings of the world’s largest humanitarian supply division, which aims to get supplies like medicine and Early Childhood Development kits as quickly as possible to children and families in need to provide lifesaving supplies and prevent deaths. 

A young boy catching a large brown box.©UNICEF
A woman standing in front of a conveyer belt in front of a box©UNICEF

Erica and Jackson both helped pack boxes of UNICEF supplies.  

The facility is so much more than a warehouse - UNICEF’s state-of-the-art distribution facility in Copenhagen uses robotics and cutting-edge AI technology to ensure that essential supplies are made available for children worldwide within 48 hours of a sudden onset emergency. 

A mother and teenage son being show a box of sports equipment.©UNICEF

Giving children space to have fun allows them to work through feelings such as pain, fear or loss while still being able to act and play like a child.  

Packed at the warehouse, the Recreation Kit includes supplies for indoor and outdoor use, including hacky sacks and balls for various sports. These kind of kits are essential to help children focus on being children, and not on the trauma they have experienced. 

A mother and son carrying umbrellas standing outside a warehouse.©UNICEF

"It was quite overwhelming to experience the scale of the logistics that UNICEF put together, which it was fascinating to see. Until you walk through those warehouses and see the immense size of the operation, you don't truly understand the logistics of the whole program. And it was really, really interesting to watch."

Erica Packer
UNICEF Australia Ambassador

Play, learning and solace for young Ukrainian refugees 

Children affected by war and conflict find their childhoods disrupted, losing the familiarity of normalcy as their lives are turned upside down. 

For the countless children of Ukraine uprooted from their homes, the Play & Hub centres in their new surroundings serve as beacons of hope. Here, they can find solace amongst the chaos they’ve endured and continue developing crucial life skills.  

A young girl holding a learning toy.©UNICEF

Early childhood development helps children grow by providing a foundation of necessary skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication, negotiation, self-management, resilience, and creativity.

A mother and her teenage son sitting in a colourful room playing with children. ©UNICEF

At the UNICEF Play and Learning Hub in Moldova, Erica and Jackson interacted with Ukranian refugee children, discovering how play is helping them build resilience and enjoy their childhoods.

A smiling woman sitting at a children's desk surrounded by children. ©UNICEF

Big smiles from everyone as the children show off their toys and gadgets.  

A woman watching a young girl participating in occupational therapy.©UNICEF

Occupational therapy is essential to help children with motor, cognitive, physical, and speech delays develop their skills. 

A woman watching a young girl participating in occupational therapy.©UNICEF

At the National Institute for Early Intervention Services, Erica met a young Ukrainian refugee undergoing occupational therapy and saw firsthand how the program helped the young girl. 

A puppet show happening on a dark stage.©UNICEF
A group of adults and children watching a puppet show. ©UNICEF

A special treat of the day was to see a show at the Licurici Puppet Theatre. 

A group of adults and children watching a puppet show. ©UNICEF

These young ones enjoyed the show with captivated minds and big smiles.   

A group of students using laptops. ©UNICEF

The EDUTech laboratories in Moldova are equipped with modern equipment and materials in information technologies, allowing children to excel in education and unleash their full potential. 

A group of students looking at a computer. ©UNICEF

Erica and Jackson met Ukrainian children connected to online learning platforms of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education. This safe and structured learning environment will hopefully facilitate their eventual enrollment in formal education. 

"These kids have been stripped to have nothing and it’s just better if we can all share what we have and make life easier for these kids going through an incredibly hard time. I definitely want to help out…I’ve had so much growing up and I’m so thankful for that."

Jackson Packer
14-year-old son of Erica Packer
A woman high-fiving a young girl in a playground. ©UNICEF

"I'm just in awe of the UNICEF team, they are so lovely and it feels like a family. You truly get a sense that everyone's on the same team and working towards the same goals. No matter where they are based, they are all coming together to build a better future for children everywhere."

Erica Packer
UNICEF Australia Ambassador

To watch the full story and coverage of their trip, head over to A Current Affair

Building futures together  

As a UNICEF Australia Ambassador, Erica is passionate about building a better future for every child and has supported our life-saving work for over 15 years. 

By joining our Global Parent network, your monthly donation means we can be there for children in need across the globe. As a Global Parent, you'll help to deliver lifesaving support to children in more than 190 countries around the world, whenever and wherever the need is greatest. 

"I wanted to be a Global Parent so that I could provide support for UNICEF to deploy wherever they see the need is most crucial at the time. Having seen the work of UNICEF first-hand motivates me to continue to be a Global Parent, as I trust them to make pragmatic decisions about where the support will be most effective."

Erica Packer
UNICEF Australia Ambassador and a Global Parent

Become a Global Parent

Help reach children as soon as an emergency hits with medical supplies, safe drinking water and life-saving therapeutic food.

A close up of a woman smiling© UNICEF Australia/Supplied

About Erica Packer

Erica Packer is an Australian model and philanthropist. Originally from Gunnedah in rural NSW, she is passionate about children's education and has funded incredible programs in Cambodia and Laos through the Erica Packer Project.